It takes a whole lot of guts — or the surly earnestness that I love about metal — to shamelessly rip off Devo with the title of your album. Or, shit, it’s more plausible that Schmier and company have never lingered in the “new wave” section of their record store. So with Booji Boy and the General nowhere in sight — Germany’s Destruction come roaring back into the collective unconscious with the album D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N., and a track listing that follows each letter of that anagram, just to keep the concept even more airtight. I dig me some high-concept thrash metal, as long as the music stays as low-down heavy as Destruction delights in.
If I may change the subject for a moment. Y’know as of late, I’ve been checking out a lot of that thrash revival music that made a bit of a splash recently — Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Fueled by Fire — and I’m struck by how conservative and museum-piece it sounds. Every note is perfectly mannered and molded to evoke maximum memory and nostalgia. It’s almost as bad as Marsalis’ theory that jazz ended with bop, and pretty much everything after was heretical noise. In short, it was a depressing and static experience. But at the same time, I also was tuning into “return” albums by Sodom and, more to the point, Destruction. I was struck by how fresh, angry, fucked up, and vibrant their music still sounded. If anything, even younger than the young pups who were nipping at their heels. What makes D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. such a great fucking album is that the members of Destruction still seem energized and inspired in the music they make.
See, the thing is — and this separates them from a lot of their peers, older bands trying desperately to stay relevant while only going through the motions — Germany’s thrash pioneers Destruction aren’t chained to their past, nor are they overly reverent to it. Mind you, they’re cognizant of it and empowered by it. What they’ve accomplished, what they mean to their fan base, drives them on to continue bashing out heavy metal. They’re lifers — in it for the long haul. Destruction take their cues from greats like Motorhead, Slayer and AC/DC (who took their cues from Little Richard, etc.), who keep it simple, with a set of constraints, but the constraints fucking work: heavy, evil, and raw. It’s a useful blueprint in 1988, 1998, and 2008. When bands like this make a new album, it’s like “Cool, a new Destruction album!” and not “those guys suck ever since they went in their techno house direction.”
So each song on the album forms the titular anagram, and the lyrics seem to form a bizarrely subtle critique of Western society. Which good thrash always did, now that I think about it. From the first few seconds of opener “Devolution” (complete with a high-pitched scream at the beginning) it’s clear that Destruction are firing on all cylinders. It’s seriously fucking heavy and primal and never lets up. No rest holds, no fat, no cheating, just that evergreen, headbanging intensity you want from old pros like this. The playing is tight and telepathic; they seem to be growing as players, still, without getting all show-offy, taking some very subconscious tips from modern death/black/extreme metal to give things that extra OOOMPF. And to think people are making such a big fuss about Metallica’s new album when this is right here.